A win for Ontario kids! On March 8, 2022, the Ontario government released its plan to update the province’s elementary science curriculum to include lessons on food literacy taught. What does this mean?
The new curriculum will be implemented in September 2022. Students from Grades 1-8 will have the opportunity to learn about agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change with a food systems lens. For example:
- Grade 3 students will learn about soil health management and assess the benefits and limitations of locally grown food. They will also explore various plants and foods traditionally grown by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.
- Grade 5 students will develop the food literacy skills necessary for making informed decisions on physical and mental health behaviours.
- Grade 6 students will discover how biodiversity interacts with agriculture and climate change.
- Grade 7 students will explore how ecosystems are impacted by various methods of agricultural and food harvesting practices.
- Grade 8 students will be introduced to food processing systems.
These changes come after Bill 216, Food Literacy for Students Act, 2020, passed its second reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This bill amends the Education Act to ensure students from Grades 1-12 have opportunities to learn about food through experiential learning activities. Currently, Bill 216 is being reviewed by a standing committee. It will have to then be reported to House, undergo a third reading, and require royal assent before it officially becomes law.
Although there’s more to do before Bill 216 becomes law, we hope that these curriculum changes foreshadow a positive outcome. In the meantime, we are pleased to see the Ontario government acting now to ensure Ontario kids learn how to connect to food. Developing food literacy skills is vital for kids to improve individual and community health. Preparing tomorrow’s food leaders for making meaningful changes in our food system starts in the classroom.
For more information on the curriculum changes, check out: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1001722/ontario-modernizing-school-science-curriculum and https://sustainontario.com/2022/03/11/food-literacy-included-in-new-gr-1-8-ontario-science-and-technology-curriculum/
To learn more about how a bill becomes law in Ontario, please see: https://www.ola.org/sites/default/files/common/how-bills-become-law-en.pdf
Written by Julissa Litterick